I don’t know if it’s just getting old or if it is really the case, but more and more everything seems to become a production. This week’s production is the annual NYU-SFS Staten Island Ferry meeting, which takes place on the Thursday closest to the 4th of July. There get to be more and more things to co-ordinate, it seems, even though it’s mostly only picking up people who are coming into town for the event. (Ethan makes this the beginning of his summer at home. That’s because he usually takes courses during the summer which last till that last week in June or so. [Which is a thing which continues to disorient me -- here public school is just ending, and not only is his spring semester done long ago, but he’s had time for another whole semester!] ) And for the last couple of years one of Marc’s girlfriends comes to town, too. She’s staying with us for a couple nights and then her husband will come up, and she’ll join him in Manhattan. And this year we had to co-ordinate picking her up with helping Deb (one of Marc’s old girlfriends) move out of her apartment, and going over to pick up the barrister bookcases she won’t have room for where she’s going. (I can’t resist bookcases, especially ones that aren’t run of the mill.) LOL -- we were co-ordinating wheelchairs with Lucy, too. (I say “we”, but the only part I had was sitting here being the switchboard between AIM, house phones and cell phones.) And because he sometimes has trouble getting places in time, I was also nagging Gary to come over and get caught up with news he wants to be caught up with before the meeting, so that he will be able to come over and leave with us, which will get him to the gate on time. Since Esther had written in her live journal about liking to pick out watermelon, this year I asked her if she wanted to do it for the ferry meeting. She did, so that was one less thing I had to do, but I’m still feeling like all we need are dancing girls. (We’ll have the music because Marc will, as usual, bring his guitar for the sing-along portion of the ferry ride.) And I will be very glad when it gets to be Saturday.
The course that Marc is taking is in copyediting. The bank will pay for a certain amount of retraining. Generally they expect that to be retraining in things like computers (which was Marc’s field at the bank), but the market for programmers with Marc’s experience Is looking grim and there is a time limit on the funds available. So, since he has been earning bits of money for copyediting for Padwolf Publishing, he decided to take a course in it. He’s got the perfect nit-picking mind for it, and he might as well get paid for what he does almost automatically.
I’m finding myself surrounded and attacked by the techo-universe lately. First my desktop computer presented with a major hardware failure. It wouldn’t even boot, so it couldn’t tell us what was wrong. Though, in another sense, that does tell us what’s wrong, because when the computer doesn’t boot, something is wrong in the very heart of the machine. I’m not even sure of all of these details, but I think it meant I had to get a new motherboard, and after fixing that we found that some of the RAM had gone bad, and we had to replace that. It’s beginning to become difficult to find parts for a machine this old, which is probably the universe’s way of telling me it’s time to upgrade, but I tend to think of upgrade as a dirty word. So often it’s used to “fix” what isn’t broken, because it’s part of the planned obsolescence of the computer industry. Nevertheless, we managed to get the old girl up and moving again, if not actually running, because of my resolute (read stubborn) refusal to upgrade when it isn’t necessary. Other attacks, though, may have given me indication that it is now necessary to upgrade some of my software, too. I have been getting dozens of pieces of e-mail that pose as “mail delivery failure” notices from people I have never heard of. When I click on them, Norton (my virus protection software) informs me that it has found a virus. It then goes through a series of steps that attempt to isolate and remove the virus, but if you follow the steps, Norton ends up deleting the entire in-box. Now, I have been running Windows 95, and the version of Norton that runs on it is no longer being supported by the company. And I have been running Netscape 4.7, which is also no longer supported. And Marc has also been getting these e-mails, but with his more recent software, the whole deletion of the in-box thing doesn’t happen, so it would appear that I now need to upgrade my software. Feh! Netscape 4.7 does something (apparently an “undocumented feature”) that I like that no later versions of Netscape do. (Details will bore you to tears, I suspect. =) At least they would me if it weren’t me having the experience.) I haven’t given up yet, though. This virus is known to Norton, and it turns out to be not a virus but a worm. The Wscript.KakWorm to be precise, and they have a workaround for the problem. I’m going to have Ethan help me figure all this crap out while he’s home for the summer, and I may even end up letting him talk me into changing to Linux. (Insert smiley penguin face here)
Unfortunately, that has not been our only techno-attack recently. A month or so ago, Marc got a call from someone at T-Mobile, our cell phone service provider. He was calling to check on some unusual activity on our account. It turned out that someone had somehow gotten hold of Marc’s cell phone number, and, apparently with that information solely, was able to access the account and order several thousand dollars worth of equipment and services. There have been numerous phone calls between Marc and T-Mobile as they try to straighten this mess out. Then last week we got another phone call, this one from Chase, about some unusual activity on our debit card. So we’re circling the wagons here as we prepare to defend ourselves from the electronic arrows of modern day outlaws.
In early June I went up to stay with my friend Mary, who has just moved out of New York City into a house a couple of hours north of here. Marc was going to a filk convention that weekend, and is taking a course on Mondays, so my “weekend” started Thursday and ended Tuesday. Mary’s new town has various activities planned for almost every summer weekend. This weekend was a strawberry festival and a library book sale. Consequently I had almost a week of being away and doing things I haven’t been able to do for a couple of years. I took the wheelchair, walker and crutches with me, and so was prepared to get around with the aid of just one person pushing the chair when needed. Still, I weigh over 300 pounds, so pushing me around is not simple. At the book sale, it was not even feasible because it was held on the grass of the back yard of the library, and some of the pavement pushing was uphill. At the book sale I was able to move around using the wheelchair as a walker, and found I could do pretty well that way by pushing the chair a bit and then sitting in it when my endurance gave out, at least until I filled the chair up with books I was buying. : ) At Mary’s new house, after the ten-cent tour, I was staying in the downstairs “mother” part of her “mother-daughter” house, so most areas were within a roughly 20-50 foot walk, but her doorways were all narrower than the walker, so by the end of the weekend I was walking without it, occasionally using a chair back or table for incidental support. I found that I was able to manage this way quite well, so for my next appointment for physical therapy, I walked in on my own, to the applause of all the therapists there who have working with me for the duration of this episode of my life, from walking to wheelchair and now back to walking again. Some of the other patients have been there through much of my progress, and they, too, were impressed and encouraging. So I’m finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have one final replacement (my right knee) which we are planning to have done in September, and then, this will all be behind me and I can begin to get back to normal. I have a long way to go to build up my endurance again, but at the moment that looks like a piece of cake. I know it won’t be, and I know I’m going to get discouraged again, but right now I’m enjoying the feeling of recovery.
One of the things that has been difficult since Ethan and Esther broke up is trying to maintain my friendship with Esther. The fundamental ground rule has been that I will not talk to Ethan about Esther and I will not talk to Esther about Ethan. It’s tough. It’s not easy for Esther to forget that I’m Ethan’s mom, and there are things she won’t go into. It’s not easy for me to forget I’m a “grown-up” and there things that she says that make me want to run screaming into the universe. And I have trouble not “fixing it” still, so when I know there are miscommunications, I have to bite my tongue. This is an area of parenthood that I never anticipated. Generally, I don’t keep secrets or keep my opinion to myself, so this has been a difficult experience. And I’m very conscious of every time I mention Ethan in my zines since I know Esther is reading them. I’m hoping I can manage to do this the right way. And I think it’s a good/significant idea that I just reminded myself that I don’t keep secrets, because secrazy killed my mother.
Mailing Comments on BWA #83, March 2004
From the Hearts and Spades of the Dragon/Liz Simmonds
Isn’t it cool teaching something you love to other people! Even cooler is to be able to do it for money. For nearly a decade now, I’ve taught people how to play Mah Jongg. A few days ago there was an item on one of our local 24-hour TV news stations about a resurgence of popularity of the game. In the report, they showed a woman who is selling Mah Jongg lessons in her home, and I thought, “Wow, I could do that, too.” It was especially mind-catching because the woman they had on the bit was shown using crutches. “Wow,” I thought, “this is clearly an option for me.” All I have to do is clean the front room and dining room, and after the APA-NYU annish collation, that is not as remote a possibility as it once was. So I am now considering this career choice, myself.
In the Corner and in the Spotlight/Anetta Pirinen
I was sorry to hear about your fall, but it also made me laugh a bit. It seems like whatever happens to one of us, very soon after happens to all of us. We BWAns must surely belong to the same karass. I hope you are better soon. /*\ re ¢ Heather and Karen Johnson: I love that Finnish expression “my thumb in the middle of my palm”. Very picturesque.
Global Village Idiot/Amy Thomson
Another picturesque expression: the holidays hit like an avalanche. Boy, do I know how that feels! /*\ I had to laugh at “given her mother’s vocabulary, this is little short of fucking miraculous.” One of my favorite “Ethan stories” is about the time we were driving over to his grandma’s for dinner. Marc and I had been talking about changing some of the words we used since grandma would definitely disapprove certain language, so Marc had decided he would start calling idiot drivers “bonehead”. I, however, drove with a trucker’s vocabulary. On the way to grandma’s a driver made a left turn from the parking lane right in front of us, cutting us off and almost causing an accident. Marc said “Nice move, bonehead” and Ethan turned to me and said “What did he call that asshole?”
Hanging by a Moment/Esther Cheung
Your discussion about driving the FDR at 11pm reminded me of an experience I had just after I learned to drive. Marc’s parents were away for a while and they asked us to drive the car every few days to keep it in shape. So I went out one night and drove all the way around Brooklyn on the various expressways that loop the “4th largest city in America”. It was very cool, especially the Manhattan skyline. And, too, when I used to have a friend who lived in Washington Heights, I’d go up there to play Bridge or Mah Jongg far into the night. I’d be coming home down the FDR at 3 or 4 in the morning and there was hardly anyone else on the road, and I’d get this image in my head of sailing home.
Work in (Rather Hasty) Progress/Marie Autrey
LOL at your description of a “grabber”. /*\ I think this is the first time I’ve actually noticed your name. Do you get asked a lot if you’re are related to Gene Autrey? Are you? (Did you already discuss this and I missed it?) : ) I, too, often fall prey to having more words in parentheses than out of them. This disty I even have nesting parenthetical words. /*\ This was a quite enjoyable zine. I’m watching for that Marie who is working her way out.
(Book)worm in the Big Apple/Lucy Schmeidler
RAEBNC except that I was reminded once again by your reviews this disty of how much I enjoy them and look forward to them. You have added a lot to my list of authors I look for and get stuff by to read.
This has been Becoming...
for BWA, July 2004 and Friends
from Donna Camp
1088 East 40th St.
Brooklyn NY, 11210
home page: nycadre.home.acedsl.com